November 20, 2008

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Valkyria Chronicles, PS3
SEGA, November 4, T

By Glenn "Imp hater" Given production@hippopress.com

I’ve never not hated anime so much!

It’s good to see defunct console developer SEGA has some good left in them. Provided they can stick to releasing innovative, interesting games like the pseudo WWII tactical RPG Valkyria Chronicles and quit slinging schlocky Sonic titles about, they might regain some of their past glory. Describing VC as a Tactical RPG is a bit of a misnomer. In truth you’ve got three styles of play in this thinly veiled animization of the Nazi Blitz. Your squad of militiamen, led by floppy-haired naturalist grad student Welkin and a deadshot baker Alicia, musters the defense of the beseiged, formerly neutral Gallia against the overwhelming assault by the Imperial Alliance (re: Krauts). The Imperials are attacking to secure Gallia’s Raganite (think glowing blue plutonium)-rich soil and generally make imperious by wiping out the Darcen (re: Jews) and other such bad-guy stuff. Battles are won on three fronts, proper squad management via soldier load out and deployment, turn-based tactical command of the overhead battlefield view and real-time FPS gunplay during your unit’s movements. You’re fighting a superior force for nearly every mission, so smart use of your snipers, anti-tank Lancers, assualt troops, tank commanders and their unit buffs is essential to achieve a well- graded outing. There is a metric ton to love here, from the perfect blend of Final Fantasy stat fetishism and turn-based strategy to the immersive on-the-ground action. You can enjoy Valkyria Chornicles for a quick half-hour skirmish, or burn the weekend away working through chapters of its cutscene-laden story. And bonus, the wacky anime nonsense is set just below eye-gouging in a nod to the half-dire tone and how carefully a plot must tread when it incorporates allusions to the Holocaust with mecha tanks and magical warrior women. Either way SEGA has put a gem together, and the PS3 has just received another ace exclusive title. AGlenn Given